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lightening vs propane tank

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  • lightening vs propane tank

    So what would happen? With a BBQ tank that is, sitting ond a deck?

  • #2
    That's a wide open question. I could see a propane tank becoming part of a circuit and absolutely nothing happening. I could also see the potential for an instant BLEVE considering the temperatures I have read that lightening creates. One thing is for sure, Mother Nature always wins.

    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.


    • #3
      The Propane Council provides excellent training materials to any dept. wanting them - I'm not sure that question is addressed in them, though!! Go to www.propanesafety.com, and see if you can get an answer. (And, if so, I'd appreciated hearing it!!)

      God is our Fire Chief;
      Jesus is our Incident Commander.


      • #4
        Just a couple of thoughts,

        1. If the tank is sitting on a deck, Chances are that it is NOT grounded. A nearby GROUNDED object makes a much more likely target.

        2. In the event that a propane tank/plumbing is involved in a lightning strike I think I would be concerned with possible leaks due to cracks or arcing of the copper plumbing. A small leak may be undetectable at first but could be a real problem later as the concentration builds.

        3. I suspect that there are very few absolutes when it comes to lightning. The potential exists for a serious emergency.

        4. I would guess that the NFPA, Through the National Fuel Gas Code and the National Electrical Code would have recommendations to prevent/minimize the potential for loss of life and property in this type of situation. This is only useful BEFORE the fact!

        5. Your local Propane supplier is a good source of information, Call them!

        Stay Safe



        • #5
          I did here a story of one getting hit and it spit apart. The tank was for the most part empty. They said that the tank spit apart and there was a nice size fire ball. Then that was it. What if it was full? Would it take out a city block? Its seems like any one with a BBQ as a nice size bomb in there back yard.


          • #6
            Well, in order for a BBQ setup to get hit by lightning, it would have to be the best target, meaning no trees, roof tops, phone poles, etc. Of course, it could just decide to hit it because lighting does some wired things occasionally. As mentioned above, if the tank was directly hit, it would probably breach and the enormous amony of heat would probably ignite it. If it was empty, it would be a little poof. If it were full, well, I don't think I'd want to be anywhere near that deck. Your basic "Insta-Bleve".

            A normal electrical current (Household power) would probably just go to ground through the metal tank, but lightning is conciderably warmer than 110 volt house current.

            But, seeing that a grill getting directly hit by lighting is highly unlikely, I'd be more worried about a tree getting hit and falling on it, crushing the grill and the deck!



            • #7
              Not quite the same, but saw the after affects of a similar one once. There was a farm, w/a single wide on the crest of the hill. Heat was provided by a typical "rural" LPG tank (10ft long or so, hard to tell, afterwards). The property was sold, new owner had the trailer removed, prep for building a custom house. Meanwhile, big thunderstorm comes through.

              This tank is at the high point (now that the trailer is gone). There's no trees in the immediate vicinity. Power Co. has recently put all powerlines underground (to limit storm damage, this is tornado country!). So, the tank (1/2 full) gets a direct hit (they think).

              No one was in the immediate area to see, but we got 50+ calls, mostly from a sub-division 1/2 mile south, reporting explosion (very loud bang) followed by fireball, but now they can't see anything, not even smoke.

              When we finally found it (1/2 hour search) it was because one end (about a 1/4th) of the tank was over 1/4 mile west, embedded in a hillside just west of a road. One of the Sheriffs units was giving up, and went down the N/S road and saw it. We lined up on where it hit, and saw a tree w/ the top broken off. Lining these up, we finally found the right driveway.

              One metal leg was visible at ground level. Another was unearthed later (while digging the foundation for the house) about 7 feet down. The other end was never found, either vaporized or in the bottom of a pond? There was one about 1/4 mile the other direction.

              All I can say is I'm glad I wasn't close to it!

              BTW, heavy rain, combined with scraped lot bare dirt), so no residual fire. It all went in one pop.


              • #8
                Wow, thats what i thought would happen.


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